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In an NBA offseason filled with blockbuster moves, no trade was more shocking or league-changing than the deal that swapped Celtics All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas with Cavaliers All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.
The trade brought significant changes to the two teams that competed for the Eastern Conference Championship last season.
While Irving was surely comfortable with the move — he had asked to be traded and ended up on a proven winner — Thomas was confused when he first heard about the star-studded trade. In a profile by Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins, Thomas expressed his shock when he heard the news that he was moving.
“None of it made any sense,” Thomas said. “It still doesn’t make any sense. I’m still asking, ‘What the hell happened?’ It’s a trade you make in NBA2K. It’s not a trade you make in real life.”
Thomas’ disbelief is understandable. He had the best year of his career with Boston last season, leading the Eastern conference in scoring and helping the Celtics along to a top seed in the playoffs. Further, after thetragic death of his sister in an automobile accidentjust a day before the Celtics first playoff game against the Bulls,Thomas rallied to play and the city rallied around him.
Thomas also made clear that he still has love for the city of Boston, and that his relationship with the city would be positive, save for one person — Celtics president Danny Ainge.
“I might not ever talk to Danny again. That might not happen. I’ll talk to everybody else. But what he did, knowing everything I went through, you don’t do that, bro. That’s not right. I’m not saying eff you. But every team in this situation comes out a year or two later and says, ‘We made a mistake.’ That’s what they’ll say, too.”
It felt like Thomas had developed something special with the city of Boston and with the Celtics fans, and to see him let go so unceremoniously in order to acquire Irving was a surprise to many, Thomas included.
The 2017-18 NBA season tips off on October 17 when the Boston Celtics visit Isaiah Thomas and the Cavaliers in Cleveland. While Thomas will be out of the game with an injury, there’s no doubt that these moods, and the trade itself, will linger over the game.